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The Panama City Pilot was inaugurated on May 30, 1907, under the editorship of George M. West. One of the founders of Panama City, West was born in New York and worked for the railroad in Wisconsin, where he was eventually admitted to the state bar. He later acquired a winter home on St. Johns Bay in Florida’s Panhandle. Under West’s direction, the Panama City Pilot sought to promote the economic development of this growing area. In 1908, the Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad, which linked Atlanta to ports and tourist destinations along the white sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, passed through Panama City, connecting the town to both Tallahassee and Pensacola.

In 1909, the year Panama City became a municipality, West was married for a third time at the age of 63. His bride, Lillian Carlisle West, was 24 and would become the Pilot’s publisher, manager and editor in 1917 as her husband’s health declined. She continued to serve as managing editor from his death in 1926 through 1937, when she retired. Mrs. West also managed the St. Andrews Bay News, acquired in 1916, and the Lynn Haven Free Press, acquired in 1926.

Provided by: University of Florida